['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day.]


The latest DVD set from Mort arrived in the mail last week, and it's quite a big one -- the complete run of CU Amiga, the mag that (after Amiga Format) was the largest Amiga-exclusive title in the UK.

CU can actually boast a long and uninterrupted publishing history in Britain, starting with VIC Computing in 1981 and continuing for 194 issues until CU's closure in 1998. It was very much a mag that reflected its times -- starting out with a largely technical bent for the nerds who bought a Commodore 64 at full price, shifting focus to games toward the late '80s as the C64 became the UK's most popular "game console," and then starting the cycle over a few years later with the Amiga.

Like Amiga Format, the title got very programming and tech-oriented in the latter years when the diehards were all that was left; unlike AF, it arguably went away at its prime, when it was still healthy-looking and had a lot of stuff to report on. There is a lot of raw material to sift through here, and I'm very much looking forward to spreading that effort out over the next few months.

Anyway, on to this fortnight's column, one that I might as well slap a "Sponsored by Future US" sticker on because they're responsible for nearly everything this time around:

PlayStation: The Official Magazine June 2009


Cover: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Hooray! Now this is a cover! It's a good enough cover, in fact, to make it my pick of this update.

Most of the internet has been talking the past couple days about page 16, where Square Enix gave PTOM some character art from an unannounced game with no further explanation and the editors let their imaginations run wild on it. But the B:AA feature inside is neater-looking, even though I really don't give much of a flip about superheroes, and the FF13 piece (like PTOM's Prince of Persia cover feature a half-year ago) is vertically oriented to novel and interesting effect.

Official Xbox Magazine June 2009 (Podcast)


Cover: Aliens vs. Predator

This issue shares some similarities with PTOM this month -- both have big BioShock 2 pieces starring 2K creative director Jordan Thomas, and both tease unannounced Square games, with OXM's looking a lot like a new Front Mission.

The AvP piece is its own, though, and it's unique neat because it's both a neat-looking game and a neat sorta story -- what with being made by the company that created the only good AvP game ever (and arguably the only good Jaguar game). There is hope, in other words, even though PC Gamer this month rated their most recent game 23%.

The other original features -- a look at good obscure XBLA games and a list of 25 things that annoy gamers about non-gamers -- aren't as prominently fun this time around.

PC Gamer June 2009


Cover: Borderlands

PCG gets its turn with BioShock 2 at the start of the mag, and the long cover feature is both well-written and nicely colored, which is good 'cos part of the article's point is that Borderlands' visuals are unique.

Most interesting to me, though, are three smaller bits: a piece by a PopCap VP about how the PC is still the top "innovation" platform (oh the irony), an interview that covers the coffee shop development of World of Goo, and a play-by-play of the first four hours of the very non-PC-like Last Remnant that's highly amusing.

Play May 2009


Cover: Brutal Legend

Not a lot about Brutal Legend that you haven't read elsewhere; the feature is an extremely intensive (IGN-like) hands-on report that goes on for many spreads and closes with a very nice piece of original art, like the Play of old. But enough of that!

Dave Halverson also reviews a lot of games this issue, which means you get to hear a lot about his opinions of the female protagonists of the games coming out this month. Good thing the supporting characters of Klonoa aren't his bag.

Retro Gamer Issue 63


Cover: Pocket power!

This cover, as you can see in the picture, folds out to reveal every potable Nintendo's ever created. Very neat, though I wonder if this'll produce a lot of ripped copies on the newsstand. The top feature this month: a making-of for Williams' Joust, complete with concept art that looks like it oughta be in some indie sci-fi comic book.

So Many Future Specials

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Woo-hoo, I found a copy of Zombies! finally! Seriously, there is a ridiculous amount of zombie nonsense in this thing, starting with a "What are zombies?" history piece and culminating with a massive look back at RE5 and the RE series in general.

There's also a couple of interviews with pertinent graphic design guys from Dead Space and Left 4 Dead, as well as the humorously-titled "The Best Dead Things in Games that Aren't Zombies But Are Still Pretty Cool". It gets even sillier toward the end of the mag, but I don't want to spoil everything. Have a look.

More useful (perhaps) and equally as fun to thumb through is PC Gamer Big Book of Free, a special that is exactly what it claims -- just a great big honking overview of free gamest hat encompasses almost the entire book. There are also assorted small articles (I think mostly taken from PC Gamer UK, correct me if I'm wrong about this) describing quick mods to PC games you can download or create yourself in a few hours.

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The second issue of Future Anime is mostly written by David F. Smith and Paul Starr, both erstwhile contributors to Newtype USA back when it existed, and so you're basically getting a (compressed, poster-heavy) issue of NTUSA if you buy this. There is just a smidge of game coverage, but not very much.

Nintendo Power Posters 2009, meanwhile, is just that. As with last year's poster special, no editorial content. I should go put all the Sonic ones up in the living room and confuse my friends.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]